Theological terms like אחרית הימים (aherit ha'yamim, latter days), or קץ הימים (qez ha'yamim, end of time) are to be understood on their level, i.e. subjectively: they mean to say that we human beings, individuals and eventually mankind as a whole, can raise to a spiritual level where time and infinity merge.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens”, is a well known saying (Eccles. 3:1). That is, the “circumstances” – namely the relevant forces – have to be ripe for the event in view. On the people’s complaint that “the time is not come”, the Prophet answered “The time is yours” (Hag. 1:2,4); that is, make yourselves ready, put yourselves together. We may also note the term “under the heavens”. It tells us that time concepts and feelings belong to the realm of our concepts and feelings; but above the heavens, “beyond”, there is Omnipresence.
In this context we should look briefly at the terms eternity and infinity. The former means endlessness of duration beyond or outside of time (time has by definition a beginning and an end!); while the term infinity relates to quantity, and thus it is used to describe endlessness of space. Yet these two concepts merge; for, logically speaking, there cannot be an infinity besides an eternity: Infinity of space and eternity of time are One.
This concept of oneness finds its verification also in the Hebrew language: There, one of the epithets of God is המקום (ha’maqom), literally the place, or the space. The gamatria of מקום (maqom) is 40+100+6+40=186; and that of the Four-Letter-Name (י+ה+ו+ה) is 10+5+6+5=26. When we square each of these components, we get:
102 + 52 + 62 + 52 = 100+25+36+25=186, which equals exactly the gamatrical value of מקום, maqom. We may conclude that creation of space (quantity) is but an amplification of the Lord’s potency, with time as one of its innate components. While we may draw conclusions from our observations of the created world about its Creator, He reveals Himself to us in the time aspect: Through Moses He made His Name known as “אהיה אשר אהיה (=I shall be that I shall be; not: I am that I am, as often rendered incorrectly); and the two signs of the Covenant with Israel have time components as essential ingredients: the circumcision at the eighth day; and the keeping of Shabbat every seventh day. Then, there are the Feasts (מועדים, “fixed dates”) of Pessah, Shavuoth (50 days after Pessah). and Succoth (Feast of Tabernacles); also Rosh haShannah, the Jewish New Year with the Day of Atonement 10 days thereafter.
Other basic commandments, too, as e.g. the respecting of the women’s periods, relate to times; and so do even those which involve places. Most noteworthy in this respect is the Temple Mount: Notwithstanding the fact that all creation is the Creator’s PLACE – His Omnipresence - (מקום, maqom), He has ordained a special place (maqom) as the place of worship for all nations (Deuter. 12:5 et al; Is. 56:7 et al): Mount Zion, the Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
Although there can, logically speaking, be only one eternity, we use yet terms like in all eternities; from eternity to eternity; eternity and beyond. They are mathematically and logically incorrect and should be understood as an attempt to convey the idea of immense time spans we cannot comprehend anyway.
Very revealing is in this context the Hebrew term for eternity, נצח (nezah): it means also victory. Endless duration of the (Divine) prevailing force and victory are seen as identical.
Summing up we can say that there are four different times:
a) the universal time about which we know hardly anything notwithstanding different theories about a "Big Bang" and the supposed time which passed since then. More relevant to us are the astrological times of the zodiac.
b) The time governing our globe due to the constellations and movements of sun, moon, and earth. With regard to the age of the latter, we would first have to decide from which stage of its development we can speak of it as a planet, or globe.
c) Religious times as e.g. Yom haKippurim (Day of Atonement); Shmittah; Yovel; or Advent in Christianity and Ramadan in Islam; etc. In fact each religion/culture knows specific time circles within bigger time circles, apparently in an attempt to raise man's consciousness above the limitations of the physical world.
d) Each one's personal time ("60 years old" counted from the date and hour of birth), given to us to grow therein physically, mentally, and spiritually. Our so-called biological clock is part of this personal time of ours.
In this context, we should take a brief look at a term which became very fashionable in recent years: going backwards in time. Based upon sub-atomic experiments in which particles appeared to move backwards in time, unrestraint fiction stories on the subject were sold widely for good money. There is no going backwards in time although from an abstract mathematical calculation it may sometimes appear to be so. We may compare this to a common experience. When traveling from west to east or from east to west we have to adjust our clocks, and when crossing the dateline, we even may have to deduct the date of a day, or add the date of a day. This does not make us one day or one minute younger, or older, although from a certain point of observation it may appear so. This would be true even in case we would travel in an airplane with a speed surpassing the rotation of the globe. The same holds in principle true also in view of the above mentioned sub-atomic experiments.
In view of the macrocosm, scientists have raised the question whether the universe which is at present conceived as expanding, would contract after reaching its culmination, and whether such a contraction would entail a reversal, or winding back, of time and of the processes which occurred during the time of expansion. It would not, of course. Reversal of a process (movement) may undo the effect of the preceding process but it cannot undo the process itself. Rather, the time (duration) needed for the reversal will have to be added to the time (duration) of the preceding process, notwithstanding the possibility that the times sensed during a process of contraction of the universe could be different from our present one.
The Zen saying quoted above: "What did your face look like before your father and mother were born?" does actually not relate to time. It is rather a question appertaining to quality, and could be answered by a kabbalistic term; "It was the face of Adam Kadmon" (the archetypal man, Gen. 1:26,27).
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The following paragraph is from a new chapter, The Time Space Correlation, which doesn’t appear on Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by RubinMass Ltd.